Rural-urban differences in general and health-related internet use

Timothy M. Hale, Shelia R. Cotten, Patricia Drentea, Melinda Goldner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Literature has shown that people living in rural areas are less likely to have access to the Internet for demographic and technological reasons; however, less information is available regarding rural-urban differences in online health-information seeking. Data from the National Cancer Institute's nationally representative 2005 Health Information National Trends Survey (N = 5,586) are used to examine these relationships. Logistic regression results show that those in rural areas use the Internet less than those who live in urban areas. Among individuals who have used the Internet, those in rural areas are less likely to use the Internet for health purposes. The persistence of a digital divide between rural and urban residents in online health searching is attributable to factors such as educational level, income, and diffusion of broadband. The article discusses the impact of these differences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1304-1325
Number of pages22
JournalAmerican Behavioral Scientist
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Broadband
  • Computer use
  • Digital divide
  • Internet
  • Online health-information seeking
  • Rural
  • Rural-urban differences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences(all)


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